This article on stress ruining your relationship was originally published in 2013.
The last month has been an absolute whirlwind! Between exciting work projects, the holidays, and travelling, I feel totally drained. My creative energy, gone. Rather, folded into boxes and bags, left on buses and trains, and tucked away in hotel rooms and friends’ apartments. My communication skills were dismal at best, nonexistent at worst. And I spent most of my time feeling totally ungrounded and cranky AF.
This stress was ruining my relationships.
Perhaps you’ve been here too. You get wicked stressed and rather than focus on doing what you need to feel more stable and energized, you take it out on those closest to you. Perhaps you feel embarrassed about it because you “know better” or guilty because it isn’t fair. While these technically can be true, shame, embarrassment, and guilt aren’t the most productive emotions. I’m not saying to resist feeling them but rather to not lose yourself in them.
The question is what the heck can you do?
The simple solution? Return to what works.
Take the “I’ve been here before and therefore should know better” and put it into action. What techniques, tricks, and tools have helped you get grounded, energized, and de-stressed in the past? Though it can be hard to remember these in the moment, practice them whenever you can. That way, in moments of stress, overwhelm, frustration, and confusion, these techniques can be more a default response than yelling at your beau or bestie over something trivial. #guiltyascharged
The more complex answer? Ground yourself.
When you get super stressed or overwhelmed or frustrated, it’s common to want rid yourself of those feelings. Maybe label them as ‘bad’ and ‘negative’ or you take them out on your partner, friend, or the cashier at Whole Foods. Unfortunately, research shows this response has the opposite effect and actually prolongs said emotions!
What can you do instead? Below are my favorite tips for getting me out of ‘ajfk;daueijf;dsk’ and into ‘ohm.’
4 Ways to Stop Your Stress Ruining Your Relationships
- GTFO of your head. Stand up, close your eyes, and feel your feet pressing into the ground. Take 5-10 deep breaths. Visualize roots growing from the bottom of your feet into the earth, all the way to her core. Feel yourself being fully supported. Ideally you’ll do this barefoot and outside, but if you’re a city-goer like me, do the best you can.
- Shake, cry, scream, or orgasm it out. Stress works in a cyclical fashion. It has a beginning, middle, and end. But too many of us don’t complete the cycle. We compartmentalize, pushing it down or away. This can be helpful, of course, but in the long-term negatively impacts your physical, emotional, and relationship help. The solution? Find time and place to stomp, scream, shake, sob, or come so hard you can’t do anything after. If you have years of pent up, unresolved stress, a daily shaking practice may be helpful. You can use a rebounder, dance around to some angsty music, or just stomp and shake while you’re brushing your teeth. It may feel goofy at first, but it’ll help you feel better now and int he future.
- Try tapping. Emotional freedom technique (EFT or tapping) is a favorite go-to practice for when life or a situation feels like it’s spinning out of control. You can read all about it here, but it helps you to first be present with whatever you are feeling and then release it. It’s easy and discreet to do just about anywhere (having done it in support groups, church, on the train, at family holidays, and a billion other places).
- Feed your soul. As you’ve likely noticed, certain foods can affect your mood.Now I’m not talking about stress-eating here but rather consciously choosing to use food as medicine. Foods high in Omega-3s are good for relieving anxiety. Root veggies and salty foods are great to help ground you. Other fruits and veggies provide lightness and clarity. I always feel better after a big green smoothie with some nuts and a side of something salty (and potato-based…).
That’s it! Those are my three current go-to techniques that I’m practicing practically daily. The more I do it now that things are settling, the better prepared I’ll be when the crazy times set in again. And so will you.
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